IMF says Benin’s economy is stronger despite Nigeria’s border closure

The Republic of Benin has continued to post a strong economic performance despite the closure of the border the country shares with Nigeria. This is according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Luc Eyraud, who led the IMF team during their visit to Benin was quoted by the Fund in a press release saying, “Real GDP is expected to grow by 6.4% in 2019, mostly driven by the agriculture and transport sectors. Growth should accelerate in 2020 and remain sustained over the medium term, buttressed by vigorous cotton production, construction, and port activities.

“Consumer price inflation, affected by the high agriculture production, has been on a declining trend, falling by 1.4% in the first nine months of 2019, relative to the same period one year earlier.

“It is expected to remain well below the 3.0% regional ceiling in 2019 and 2020. The fiscal deficit for 2019 is estimated at 2.3% of the recently rebased GDP.

“Performance under the IMF-supported program has been very satisfactory so far this year. All end-June 2019 quantitative performance criteria and the end-September structural benchmark program were met.”

This is contrary to the words of the Director, African Department of IMF, Abebe Selassie, who said that the continuous closure of the Nigerian borders was hurting economies of Benin and Niger Republics.

Selassie spoke about the adverse effects the border closure had on the neighbouring countries like Benin republic but did not offer any solution. He urged the countries to come together and discuss in order to resolve the challenges caused by illegal trade and smuggling.

While Selassie understood the impact of the illegal trade, he hoped that there would be an amicable resolution in which both Benin republic and Nigeria (which he referred to as Benin’s big brother) would benefit from.

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